Pay Fairness – How To Tackle The Most Challenging Retention Issue


While drivers consider many items when deciding whether to leave a carrier, like work-life balance, time on the road and company culture, problems with pay will send a driver looking faster than anything else.

The Stay Metrics’ data highlights issues with pay for drivers and shows that it is one of the toughest challenges for carriers to address. Of course, there is often only so much that a carrier can do with respect to the pay of their drivers.

Carriers should have a plan for how to review driver pay and make pay decisions moving forward. A sound strategy allows team members to understand why certain decisions are made and can be reviewed each year.

This represents ratings for 26 carriers based on data from over 4,000 surveys received between June 1, 2019 and May 31, 2020. To be included in the community, each carrier must have at least 20 drivers with valid data for the item/score being analyzed. Some clients were not included as they had not yet transitioned to our new surveys.

Jerry Scott serves as COO of Stay Metrics and relies on his deep trucking industry experience to help him understand our clients’ challenges. Here are 3 tips from Jerry for addressing pay issues for drivers.

Jerry’s Take

1: Starving Drivers Will Not Stick Around Very Long!

Drivers work first for pay to support themselves and their families. They join carriers knowing how that carrier compensates drivers and accept the deal. However, for a significant portion of them something goes very wrong. Although it is important to review pay rates regularly for competitiveness, most often the problems with driver dissatisfaction with pay fairness is in the margins where some percentage of drivers are not earning enough to survive.

Have a process to report and review weekly which drivers earn under a predetermined level of acceptable pay. Weed out the “not available” for work scenarios for true inadequate work/pay and look for trends. This can lead to a review of how work is assigned. Is there retaliation for turning down loads in a non-forced dispatch environment? Are senior drivers favored over less tenured drivers? Are company trucks favored over leased-on owner operators? If only 75% of your drivers are doing fine, the other 25% will continue to churn at a high rate until you address the root causes of systemic inadequate pay.

2: Pay Has to Balance Effort and Time!

From the beginning of time, drivers have been told that they must accept the good with the bad. That the blended result is the key. Yet many drivers feel they end up with the short end of the stick far too often. Pay should regularly be reviewed with an eye toward effort and time. How many uncompensated deadhead miles is a driver experiencing in a percentage of the load environment? How much uncompensated or under compensated wait time is a driver experiencing? If the levels are out of balance, then those drivers are highly at risk. The key is to either fairly compensate drivers for the use of their legal capacity or make sure the uncompensated portion is reasonable and sustainable. Closely aligned is effort for delivery, tarping or other extraordinarily demanding work. Is the extra pay for activities other than driving adequate and worth it to drivers over time?

3: Pay Process Matters!

Even if a driver is earning a fair amount of pay, frustration with the process can cause them to leave. Make sure your settlement statement is timely, clear, easy-to-understand and available through multiple channels like online or via email. Make sure drivers understand deductions to pay and ensure those deductions are fair and mutually agreeable.  When assessorial pay is earned, make sure it is easy to get paid, the rules are clear and well understood and the process is a positive experience. Survey drivers about your pay process and give them an opportunity to enter text comments.  Those comments may likely reveal problems under the surface that are badly in need of reengineering or execution excellence.

What strategies have worked for you for addressing truck driver pay fairness? We’d love to hear!

Are you interested in seeing how Stay Metrics could help you realize retention? Reach out today to schedule an initial conversation with a member of our team.